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Google's futuristic 3D-meeting tech is taking another step forward

Google is expanding the testing of Project Starline, its experimental 3D telepresence video-meeting system.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on
Image: Google

Google's Starlight light field display prototypes for immersive video meetings will soon be seen in other companies' offices, too.

Google announced Project Starline at last year's IO conference. But so far its prototypes have only been used within Google US offices by staff and select partners from various industries for video meetings between two people at separate locations with the same setup.

The technology, which Google compares to a "magic window", uses light field 3D displays, an array of cameras around the participant backed by 3D imaging and real-time compression. The result is a sense of volume and depth for participants without the need for AR/VR headsets. 

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Beyond the custom displays on each end, each Starline unit is comprised of special lighting, multiple infrared, color texture, and tracking cameras, speakers and mics, and infrared projectors. The prototype used in Google's study on its 3D telepresence system relied on a Lenovo P920 PC equipped with four Nvidia GPUs, consisting of two Quadro RTX 6000s and two Titan RTXs. The GPUs alone would cost over $10,000.  

So, it's high-end, video-conferencing equipment for corporate offices – but Google thinks it's the future of virtual meetings for hybrid work and has now expanded an early access program with its enterprise partners, which will see it install Starline prototypes at some partner offices over the coming year. 

Participants that will get Starline prototypes include Salesforce, WeWork, T-Mobile and Hackensack Meridian Health.

"As we build the future of hybrid work together with our enterprise partners, we look forward to seeing how Project Starline can help employees form strong ties with one another, doctors form meaningful bonds with their patients, and salespeople make deeper connections with their clients and customers," said Andrew Nartker, a director of product management on Project Starline

"Whether you're presenting to a colleague or just sitting down for a coffee chat, we want the Project Starline experience to feel natural, as if the person is sitting in the same room as you. More broadly, we are eager to enable workforces to feel energized and productive when collaborating from afar."

Google says that over 100 enterprise partners in areas like media, healthcare and retail have used Starline in demos at Google's offices. 

Google employees have used Project Starline to onboard, interview and meet new teammates, pitch ideas to colleagues and engage in one-on-one collaboration, Nartker noted last year.

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